Not too many things get boxing fans as excited as a unification fight. Especially when that fight features arguably the best pound-for-pound boxer defending multiple titles against possibly the hottest prospect in the sport.
It makes a person wonder how it possibly gets better. But what if I told you it’s not on PPV but on ESPN?
Thanks to Top Rank’s deal with ESPN, the promotional company is bringing a true gift in this ridiculous year as Vasiliy Lomachenko defends his Ring Magazine, WBA and WBO lightweight championship against IBF champion Teofimo Lopez this Saturday from The Bubble at the MGM Grand.
Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) is about as polished as any fighter in the history of the sport, two Olympic gold medals, a world title in his third professional fight amazingly tying the record set by Saensak Muangsurin. He just missed out on the world title in split decision loss (his only blemish) against multi-time champion Orlando Salido in his second fight. Loma, as he is called often, is everything as advertised.
Just how good is Teofimo Lopez?
If we go by his father’s proclamations, this fight won’t last long and Lopez will fly into the upper echelon of the sport. He’s 15-0 (12 KOs) and has looked very impressive against the fighters he’s shared the ring with thus far. It’s a true intriguing matchup but there is no one of Loma’s caliber on that list.
Lomachenko is -400 at Station Casinos while Lopez can be found +350 at the Westgate SuperBook. The total rounds is set at 10.5 Over -175 at William Hill and +170 on Under also at the SuperBook.
Originally, I felt the opening number around -340 in favor of Lomachenko was correct. But I can understand the move toward the favorite. The public loves the power puncher that Lopez clearly is but it’s the master of the sweet science, slick boxing and defense that usually gets the sharp money.
Lopez has yet to be in the ring with someone who has those skills.
This doesn’t mean Lopez can’t rise to that level, but it might take him some time to make the necessary adjustments, if he’s careless, Lomachenko will counter. Lopez’s best shot is continue changing up his style throughout the fight to attempt to keep Lomachenko off balance and keep him guessing.
It would be wise for Lopez to bring the fight right to Lomachenko at the opening bell. The worst thing that he can let happen is for Lomachenko to get locked in defensively. I don’t expect the ‘dog price to get higher than +380 and because of that it’s just not enough for me to back Lopez.. The total looks like a decent play. While I worry about Lopez’s attack, I think it’s far likelier he wins by a late-round stoppage than early so I am going to back the Over 10.5 at -175. Lopez is naturally the bigger guy so I think it would be harder for Lomachenko to knock him out unless it happens late. Let’s take the risk that if a knockout happens, it takes place in the championship rounds. OVER